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Conversations with Iris

Conversations with Iris

By IRIS, University of Birmingham, UK
“Conversations with Iris” is a podcast series on migration, displacement and (im)mobility produced by the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham. In our Conversations, we dialogue with researchers, teachers, writers, migrants, refugees, activists, community organisers, artists and policymakers on issues related to migration and diversity in the (post)Covid world. The series is edited and produced by Stefano Piemontese and Nando Sigona and is also available as Zoomcast on and
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Manus Island is the soul of the system – In conversation with Omid Tofighian

Conversations with Iris

Queer resistance and solidarity in wartime Ukraine – In conversation with Zhenya Tramvay Yevhen Trachuk
In this episode, Dawn River talks to Zhenya Tramvay Yevhen Trachuk from Kyiv Pride. Zhenya focuses on the achievements of LGBTQI people in Ukraine and their hope for the future, issues related to the border crossing of transgender people and the frictions and potential alliances between the Russian and Ukrainian LGBTQI movements.
July 12, 2022
Brexit and the practice of citizenship – In conversation with Djordje Sredanovic
To mark the 6th anniversary of the 2016 Brexit referendum we spoke with Dr  Djordje Sredanovic (Free University of Brussels), author of Implementing Citizenship, Nationality and Integration. In this analysis, Sredanovic compares and contrasts the experiences of citizenship and integration policies in the UK and Belgium. In-depth interviews with officials show both the everyday application of approaches to citizenship and integration, and their evolution in recent years.
June 24, 2022
Transnational politics and 'The Ethics of Exile' – In conversation with Ashwini Vasanthakumar
This episode explores transnational political mobilisation by migrant communities. Catherine Craven (Research Fellow on the MIGZEN project) speaks to Ashwini Vasanthakumar (Associate Professor at Queen’s University, Canada), about her recently published book The Ethics of Exile: A Political Theory of Diaspora, which explores the normative and political agency of exiles. In their conversation, Ashwini and Catherine discuss the importance of thinking of migrants and members of exile communities as powerful actors in international politics. They talk about the ways in which exiles – and diaspora communities in general – have the power to affect change, both ‘at home’ and ‘abroad’, and about the ways in which they might contribute to creating a more equal and just world. They agree that, despite the significant challenges that exiles face as they navigate complex political environments at the local, national and international level - including the risk of co-optation by powerful state and non-state actors - hope is nevertheless warranted!
February 11, 2022
Visual Methodologies in Migration Studies – In conversation with Karolina Nikielska-Sekula and Dr Amandine Desille
In this new episode, Dr Stefano Piemontese, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at IRiS, speaks with Dr Karolina Nikielska-Sekula (Jagiellonian University, Krakow) and Dr Amandine Desille (University of Bordeaux) about their co-edited book "Visual Methodology in Migration Studies. New Possibilities, Theoretical Implications, and Ethical Questions", published in Summer 2021 in the Springer IMISCOE Research series.   📕 The book is available open access at
January 23, 2022
Climate diplomacy and international migration - In conversation with Sarah Louise Nash
To mark 2021 International Migrants Day, we are releasing a new episode of Conversations with IRiS (#CWI29) dedicated to understanding the policy encounter between climate change and international migration, how it began, who was involved and where it is heading. Professor Nando Sigona, Director of IRiS, speaks with Dr Sarah Louise Nash, author of "Negotiating Migration in the Context of Climate Change", published by Bristol University Press.
December 16, 2021
Citizenship and belonging: Generation 2.0 in Greece – In conversation with Natani Petros
Anna Papoutsi talks to Natani Petros about identity and belonging among second generation individuals of African decent in Athens (Greece). We discuss the experience of growing up under a citizenship regime that is based on jus sanguinis, meaning that nationality is determined by the nationality of the parents and not the place of birth (jus soli). While born and raised in Greece, children of African migrants had until recently no access to citizenship. Even today many of them still practically have no way of becoming citizens, while their sense of belonging is further curtailed by narrow and racialised understandings of Greekness. In our discussion we draw on the work of the grassroots organisation ‘Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity’, who led the campaign for the right to citizenship for the second generation.  Natani Petros is the Diversity Network Officer at Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity. She is of Ethiopian origin and was born and raised in Athens. Her work now focuses on diversity and inclusion, campaigning for racial injustice in Greece.
December 01, 2021
Indigenous migration in Mexico, Guatemala and the USA – In conversation with Valentina Glockner and Walter G. Flores
In this episode of Conversations with Iris we examine the unresearched phenomenon of indigenous migration with a focus on Guatemala, Mexico and the US diaspora. Despite the heterogeneity of indigenous populations in terms of language culture, age, gender and family make-up, they often face a range of specific vulnerabilities on the move. The challenges they meet both on their journey and once they settle are significant. They include gender-based violence, human trafficking, racism and language barriers that undermine their rights and due process. Indigenous populations in Central America are at risk of displacement owing to range of factors, including climate change and environmental degradation alongside extreme poverty, lack of socio-economic opportunity and violence. In this conversation, Dr Jennifer Allsopp talks to Dr Walter Flores and Professor Valentina Glockner, Co-Investigators on the GCRF funded Life Facing Deportation project about recent trends in indigenous migration. Together, they discuss the need for a localized and global response to rights literacy for indigenous people on the move.
October 10, 2021
Migration governance beyond the state – In conversation with Andrew Geddes
In the new episode of Conversations with Iris, Nando Sigona talks with professor Andrew Geddes, director of the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute, about his recent book 'Governing migration beyond the state' (Oxford University Press). The conversation explores the role of regional actors in migration governance and how responses to mobility are negotiated across different national, international and regional actors, including the private sector.
September 09, 2021
Tech at the border – In conversation with Millie Graham Wood
When travelling across the world, people are being subjected to multiple forms of tracking and profiling by unaccountable state agencies. Local and international travel is changing radically as concerns about terrorism and migration increase. Security agencies require access to travellers’ information before they leave their homes, compulsory identification of travellers now includes the collection of fingerprints and facial images, and secret watchlists, dossiers and profiles are being developed. Nando Sigona talks to Millie Graham Wood of Privacy International to find out about the risks of digital bordering for migrants and refugees.
June 30, 2021
LGBTIQ people seeking asylum in the UK in times of COVID-19 – In conversation with Laurie Hartley
Laurie Hartley, Asylum Seeker Support Worker at Rainbow Migration (previously known as UKLGIG), speaks to IRiS academic Dawn River about the experiences of LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in the UK.
June 22, 2021
The New Plan for Immigration in the UK: Asylum under threat – In conversation with Zoe Gardner
IRiS Director Professor Nando Sigona is joined by Zoe Gardner, Policy Advisor with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) to discuss the UK’s new plan for immigration.
June 11, 2021
Racism in healthcare – In conversation with Sarah Hamed & Suruchi Thapar-Bjorker
Sarah Hamed, dentist and PhD researcher at the Department of Sociology at Uppsala University and Dr Suruchi Thapar-Bjorkert, docent and senior researcher at the Department of Government at Uppsala, discuss with Professor Jenny Phillimore from IRiS on findings from an interdisciplinary project looking at understanding racism and healthcare.
January 26, 2021
The impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people in Europe and Central Asia – In conversation with Akram Kubanychbekov & Cianán Russell
ILGA-Europe staff Akram Kubanychbekov and Cianán Russell speak with Dawn River from IRiS. Their research reveals there have been significant impacts on the health, socioeconomic security, and physical security of LGBTIQ individuals, as well as impacts on the function and funding of LGBTIQ organisations.
January 19, 2021
Political demography, Brexit and the borders of membership – In conversation with Adrian Favell
How has Brexit redrawn the boundaries of membership in the UK? IRiS Director Nando Sigona talks to Professor Adrian Favell about the ESRC-funded Northern Exposure project on the impact of Brexit on northern towns and small cities, and how the end of freedom of movement doesn’t mean less immigration, but immigration with less rights and protections.
November 19, 2020
Migrant caravans in Central America: violence, borders & COVID-19 – In conversation with Brenda Ochoa
IRiS researcher Dr Marisol Reyes talks to Brenda Ochoa, Director of the NGO Human Rights Centre Fray Matias de Cordova AC, on the effects of border closure at the Guatemala and Mexico border on Central American migrant caravans in the context of Covid-19 public health crisis.
November 05, 2020
Racism, migration and the US election – In conversation with Chip Gallagher
Jenny Phillimore talks to Chip Gallagher (LaSalle University, US) about immigration and racism and how they are shaping voting behaviours in the US Election as well as the prospects for change with the election of a Biden/Harris-led government. Chip Gallagher is Professor of Sociology at LaSalle University, US. His research focuses on social inequality, race relations, whiteness and immigration, and he has published over 50 articles, reviews and books on these topics. As a Fulbright Research Scholar at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. in 2016-17, Gallagher researched attitudes on immigration and Brexit.
October 26, 2020
Trump, COVID-19 and the fragility of migrant lives – In conversation with Cecilia Menjívar
Prof Nando Sigona, Director of IRiS, dialogues with Cecilia Menjívar, Professor of Sociology at UCLA and President-Elect of the American Sociological Association- ASA on the impact of the Trump administration and COVI-19 on migrant lives.
September 29, 2020
Race, gender and the politics of lockdown in Brazil – In conversation with Josiane Silva de Oliveira
[Conversation in Portuguese] Dr Andrea Poleto Oltramari (Visiting Fellow at IRiS) and Dr Josiane Silva de Oliveira discuss the racialised and gendered effects of Covid-19 in Brazil.
September 12, 2020
Everyday racism and community organising – In conversation with Maureen Lewis
IRiS Researcher Laurence Lessard-Phillips, talks to Maureen Lewis, Chief Officer of Walsall Black Sisters Collective and Advisory Board member of Walsall for All. They discuss Maureen’s important work, the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of learning from our collective history.
July 22, 2020
Displaced SGBV survivors and COVID-19 – In conversation with Pip McKnight & Hana Leshaj
Sandra Pertek, IRiS Researcher, speaks to Pip McKnight of Refugee Women Connect and Hana Leshaj, asylum seeker based in Liverpool and member of Refugee Women Connect Advocacy Group, about the deteriorating reality post COVID-19 for migrants and asylum seekers in the UK, at the time of easing lockdown restrictions.
July 16, 2020
Care workers our heroes: a double edged sword – In conversation with Nina Sahraoui & Sabrina Marchetti
IRiS Researchers, Annavittoria Sarli and Natasha Nicholls talk to Nina Sahraoui from the Paris Centre for Sociological and Political Research (CNRS) and Sabrina Marchetti from the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice, specialists in the intersection of gender and migration.
July 08, 2020
The exploitation of migrant agriculture workers in Italy – In conversation with Giuseppe Pugliese
[Conversation in Italian] IRiS Researcher, Annavittoria Sarli talks to Giuseppe Pugliese, an activist at SOS Rosarno, a civil society organisation that fights against the exploitation of agricultural workers, mostly migrants, in Italy.
June 26, 2020
Community Sponsorship under lockdown – In conversation with Ruth Forecast & Sharon Baker
Professor Jenny Phillimore talks to Ruth Forecast and Sharon Baker from the Malvern Welcomes Community Sponsorship Group. They discuss the challenges that refugee families and volunteers have faced in the time of Covid-19, including getting to grips with new technologies, supporting children with school work and enabling families to understand the regular Government updates and information. Find out more about the IRiS Community Sponsorship Scheme evaluation research in the UK.
June 22, 2020
Manus Island is the soul of the system – In conversation with Omid Tofighian
In 2017, the Iranian-Kurdish writer, Behrouz Boochani, published an extraordinary book, “No Friend But the Mountains” which documented his life imprisoned in the Australian-run immigration detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Combining political theory, myth, poetry, memoir, the book rises to the challenge of resisting oppression by creating a new literary form of knowledge. Written using phone text messaging, the text was also a work of interdisciplinary translation, collaboration, and imagination. In this episode Lyndsey Stonebridge talks with the political philosopher, Omid Tofighian, Boochani’s translator and collaborator. They examine how contemporary migration regimes can be described as an interlocking ‘Kyriarchal’ systems of domination and explore how creative writing can lead to new understandings of injustice and human rights. This is the reference to Itamar’s letter about Boochani mentioned in the video.
June 18, 2020
The end of the “age of migration”? – In conversation with Alan Gamlen
In this episode, IRiS Director Professor Nando Sigona talks to Dr Alan Gamlen, Associate Professor of Geography at Monash University, Australia, founding editor-in-chief of the journal Migration Studies (OUP) and co-editor of the “Global Migration and Social Change” book series for Bristol University Press. Inspired by Alan Gamlen’s recent COMPAS Working Paper on migration and the pandemic, this conversation speculates on the impact of the pandemic on migration flows and governance and what we can expect for the future.
June 15, 2020
The impact of COVID-19 on migrant women in the UK – In conversation with Rubina Jasani
Dawn River, academic at IRiS talks to Dr Rubina Jasani, Programme Director for Global Health at The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute in Manchester. Rubina has an interest in exploring people’s lived experience of violence, displacement and identities; gender and sexuality; and suffering and healing. As a founding member of ‘No Recourse! Peer Research Project’ in partnership with WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together, Manchester) and serving on the Board of Directors of Safety4Sisters, Rubina has been committed, through the co-creation of knowledge, to challenging stereotypes, raising awareness and campaigning for fundamental rights for refugees and asylum seekers. Informed by her academic and political work and, in her own words, ‘the experience of being a brown Indian woman’, Rubina speaks about the impact Covid-19 is having on the lives of activists and refugee and migrant women in the UK.
June 12, 2020
A not sighted asylum seeker in Rome – In conversation with Melash Zeleke
Melash Zeleke is from Ethiopia and is a not sighted asylum seeker currently living in a reception centre in Rome, Italy. He tells Natasha Nicholls and Annavittoria Sarli (IRiS) about his story and his life.
June 08, 2020
Social justice and accountability in times of crisis – In conversation with Daniel Trilling
In this episode, Lyndsey Stonebridge, professor of Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham, talks to Daniel Trilling, former editor of the New Humanist, journalist and author of Lights in the Distance. Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe (2018) and Bloody Nasty People. The Rise of Britain’s Far Right (2012).
June 01, 2020
Being a LGBTIQ asylum seeker in times of pandemic – In conversation with Espoir Njei
This conversation between Espoir Njei and Dawn River took place one month into the coronavirus lockdown. They built a friendship through their shared commitment to supporting LGBTIQ migrants fleeing persecution. Espoir is a lesbian asylum seeker from the Cameroon currently in lockdown in Birmingham and Dawn is a queer academic at the University of Birmingham currently in lockdown in Germany.
May 14, 2020
The migrant city at the time of Covid-19 – In conversation with Les Back
Lyndsey Stonebridge, professor of humanities and human rights at the University of Birmingham, dialogues with Les Back, professor of sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and recently co-author of “Migrant City” (Routledge 2018).
May 06, 2020